By Ron Leir
NUTLEY – A two-year investigation by the Nutley Police Dept. concluded Jan. 12 with the arrest of a resident and a local businessman who’ve been implicated in a drug dealing scheme.
On the night of Jan. 12 police arrested Thomas Giardina, 55, of Nutley, and John Pino, 38, who lives in Union and runs a business in Nutley, on various drug-related charges.
Armed with a search warrant, Nutley Police – accompanied by Essex County Sheriff’s Officers and a K-9 unit – searched Giardina’s Essex St. home and found “several thousand dollars worth” of drugs, which police seized.
Police also impounded a 2000 Pontiac that they said Giardina was using.
On the basis of a lengthy investigation, police said they believed that Giardina, who works as a painter, was dealing prescription narcotics and cocaine from his Nutley home. “We’ve had him in our crosshairs for some time,” one detective said.
Giardina was charged with five counts of drug distribution, two counts of drug possession and three counts of possession of drug paraphernalia for distribution and was ordered held at the Essex County Jail, Newark, in lieu of $175,000 bail.
Through their investigation, police said they determined that Pino was an accomplice in the illicit drug enterprise. Police said Pino’s business is legitimate but declined to identify it.
Police said a search of Pino’s Nutley business on Franklin Ave. turned up additional drugs – cocaine and a series of prescription medications – which police confiscated.
Pino was charged with two counts of drug possession, drug possession with intent to distribute, drug possession with intent to distribute within 500 feet of a school, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a prohibited weapon. He was released pending a court hearing.
Nutley Police Director Alphonse Petracco said: “Drugs will not be tolerated in this town any longer.” He joined Police Chief John Holland in commending the Detective Bureau for its investigative work.
In an apparently unrelated drug case, on Jan. 9 at 9:00 p.m., police arrested Massimo Luele, 34, at his River Road home in Nutley on charges of possession of drugs near a school, possession with intent to distribute, possession of hypodermic needles and possession of drugs. He’s being held at Essex County Jail, Newark, on $125,000 bail with no 10% cash option.
Petracco reiterated that these arrests are meant to let suspected drug offenders “know we intend to go after them if they bring, sell or use drugs in our town.”
In other criminal activities logged by Nutley Police during the past week:
At 8:13 p.m., a Cedar St. resident reported that someone, who identified themselves as a Microsoft representative, called to clean the resident’s computer. The resident gave the caller her credit card information, only to discover that the call was fraudulent. She told police she canceled her card.
At 4:16 p.m., a PSE&G worker reported a Caterpillar Track Loader had been stolen from a work site on Cook Road. Police are investigating.
At 11:53 a.m. the manager of a local confectionary store on Franklin Ave. reported that someone had made a transaction using a $100 bill that turned out to be counterfeit. Police are checking into the situation.
At 12:45 p.m., police pulled over the driver of a 1998 Nissan along Rt. 21 who was wanted by Bergen County authorities. Alix Elie, 52, of Belleville, was held at headquarters for pickup by Bergen County Police. It couldn’t be learned why Elie was being sought.
At 9:28 a.m., police stopped another motorist on Rt. 21 wanted by Tinton Falls authorities on outstanding warrants. Rui Lopes, 21, of New Rochelle, N.Y., was released after posting $300 bail.
At 8:12 p.m., a Friedland Road resident reported that the side view mirror on their 2008 Nissan Wagon was gone. The resident was unsure whether it had been knocked off by a passing vehicle or removed.
At 12:21 a.m., police went to a parking lot on Franklin Ave. near Harrison St. to check on a report of a fight. They learned that two men had been fighting and one had bitten the other. Police advised them of their right to sign complaints and let them go.
At 6:47 p.m., two Nutley teenage girls were reported missing after they failed to show up for school earlier that day. Investigation disclosed that one of the teens had befriended a boy from Morris County online and took a bus to meet him. Police eventually located the girls – unharmed – in Totowa. Police said the boy allegedly hid the girls in his garage. One of the girl was released to the custody of her parents, who’d gone to Totowa to search for their daughter and her friend. Nutley detectives took the other girls home. Authorities are exploring whether to bring charges against the boy, police said.
At 10:02 a.m., a Newark Ave. resident told police a hard luck story. The resident had paid a contractor $5,000 to do a job nearly six months ago but the job has remained undone and no sign of the contractor. Police advised the resident how to sign the appropriate complaints.
At 10:00 a.m., an employee of a Washington Ave. business told police someone had stolen a luggage bag containing several manuscripts from near his work locker. Police are investigating.
At 8:06 p.m., a Howe St. resident notified police about a possible scam. The resident said someone called from Texas asking for personal identifying information over the phone so that the resident could claim $2.5 million in winnings. Police said they were unable to make contact with the caller.
At 6:09 p.m., police drove to a Franklin Ave. residence after someone called about water pouring from the east side of the building. Police and firefighters managed to get inside and shut off the water. Township code offi cials are following up.
At 4:43 p.m., a Swathmore Drive resident called to report someone had scrawled drawings on her garage door. Police are investigating.
At 2:24 p.m., Raymond Ave. parents reported their 12-yearold son missing when he reportedly slept out without notifying them. Detectives managed to learn where the boy was through a cell phone location and found him safe with friends on Hawthorne Ave.
At 11:12 a.m., a Ridge Rd. resident called police to report the disappearance of an illuminated Christmas tree from the front of the house.
At 10:12 p.m., a tenant’s complaint of no heat brought police to a Centre St. apartment building to investigate. Police were told there were small children living in a heatless apartment. Police advised the landlord and referred the complaint to township code offi cials.
At 9:04 p.m. police repeatedly warned a youth not to recklessly skateboard along Centre St. before notifying the youth’s parents.
At 8:03 p.m., an attendant at a Centre St. gas station told police that a driver in a red pickup had sped away after getting gas and not paying. Police are investigating. At 3:43 p.m., a resident complained to police that several items were missing from their car after it was detailed at a local car wash. Police are investigating.
At 3:29 p.m., police went to a Colonial Terrace location to check on the report of a fi ght. Reports indicate that two brothers were quarreling and that one of them jumped on the hood of the other’s vehicle as it was moving and that he fell off, causing a minor injury.
At 12:49 p.m., police met with administrators at Nutley High School after it was determined that one of the students was stealing items from various lockers. Charges are pending. At 3:15 a.m., police went to a Centre St. eatery on a report of an unruly patron. Police persuaded the customer to leave without further trouble.